Black Bear Film Fest’s program bares documentaries this year

Milford. This year’s documentary dominated festival covers an array of scenes and subject matter, from Boris Karloff to the Parsley Massacre.

| 05 Oct 2022 | 07:15

Milford– The Black Bear Film Festival (BBFF) will celebrate its 23rd annual festival on Oct 14-16 with 10 films on the main stage and approximately 40 in the film salon at Good Shepard Episcopal Church (110 West Catherine Street). When asked why they chose so many documentaries for the festival, Artistic Director Matthew Bechtold said, ”After the pandemic, people started making documentaries. A lot of good, human stories came out of that.”

Often people think of documentaries as somewhat boring litanies of facts and statistics, but the documentaries at the BBFF, especially those to be shown in the main stage, are stories that illustrate the human condition. Bechtold said, “These are the stories that move me and are very powerful stories.”

The window for submission of films for consideration to the festival is from January 15 to July 15. Bechtold, along with the programming committee, auditioned 251 films before selecting the winners to be shown at the festival. He watched each film at least twice, as did some of the others on the committee. All of this activity was during the period of July through September – a relatively short period of time. People would look at the films and then discuss their merits for various audiences at the Main Stage and for more specialized viewers in the salons.

“The BBFF is for everyone,” says Veronica Coyne, the executive director of the festival. “It’s for film lovers and film makers. It’s for spreading joy and building community through film.”

The activities begin on Friday, October 14, with a 5:00 p.m. screening of a 15-minute silent film called “A Feud in the Kentucky Hills, starring Mary Pickford and directed by D. W. Griffith in 1912. Pianist Jane Mangini, keyboardist for the Trans-Siberian Orchestra, laid down the musical track to accompany this film. Then a film about Boris Karloff, “The Man Behind the Monster,” will be screened, followed by a Q&A with producer Ron MacCloskey and hosted by John DiLeo.

These two films are included with the Gala Dinner ($90.00 per ticket), or they can be bought separately for $10.00 each at the box office. The dinner at nearby St. Patrick’s Church will be catered by Doug Cosh, local food wizard and chef. “The Mostly Jazz Trio,“ with vocalist Yvonne Michel, will provide music for listening and dancing. A silent auction of ten artist- decorated “artful bears” will begin on Friday at 4:00 p.m. in the tent, and winners will be announced on Sunday at 1:30 p.m.

The main stage schedule on Saturday, October 15 starts at 11:15 a.m. with a film about Cuban drummer Emil Sosa and ends with a film beginning at 8:00 p.m. called “The Automat,” narrated by Mel Brooks, about the actual Automat in New York City.

Some of the other films on Saturday are “Mama Bears” about devout religious mothers with LBGTQ children turning into fierce advocates for the LBGTQ community; “Parsley,” about the Parsley Massacre of 1937 and an expectant Haitian mother in the Dominican wilderness desperately seeking shelter; and two shorts about walking. Food will be available inside the tent.

On Sunday, “Lucky Doug,” a comedy about a cat salesman who decides to become a millionaire, begins at noon, and is followed by “Broke(n)” at 2:00 p.m., filmed in Allentown, about how Americans are struggling with stagnant wages, increasing inflation and unpredictable government aid.

There will be an awards ceremony, new this year, at 4:00 p.m. on Sunday to close the festival, with six awards: Best Main Stage Film, Best Short Film, Regional Spotlight Award, Best Documentary, Best Student Film, and Young Filmmaker award. There will also be quite a few local filmmakers attending.

The BBFF has grown in stature and the anticipation is building for this year. Max Brinson, BBFF President, puts it this way, “Black Bear is bringing another great selection of films for this year’s festival, thanks to Matthew and all the work that he’s done, along with Veronica and the board. We’re really excited to be back in the historic Milford Theater for our 23rd festival.”

For information about the schedule both for the main stage and the Salon, as well as to buy tickets, go to
Bechtold, along with the programming committee, auditioned 251 films before selecting the winners to be shown at the festival.